torrie's travels


Rhine River Cruise September 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 8:52 am

Today I had planned to make my way north via a Rhine River cruise.  I have struggled with reading the company’s schedule for months.   I sent them an email long before I left the states asking for clarification and never heard back.  I called them yesterday, but the lady kept saying she couldn’t understand me (not sure if she meant language or cell service) and hung up on me.  I wanted to go from Mainz to Koblenz.  Koblenz is where the Rhine and the Mosel Rivers meet and there is an old castle I wanted to see on the Mosel.  So I toyed with doing both in one day, otherwise staying in Koblenz one night and doing the Mosel the next morning.  That’s what I decided to do.

Due to the difficulties in reading their schedule, I thought my only option was to get on the 8:45am boat in Mainz.  Which is close to a 3-hour train ride from Baden Baden.  Which meant I had to get up at 4am, the cab was waiting at 4:30am, and I got on the 5:14 am train.  Made two changes and got a cab in Mainz to take me to the river.  The cruise was free (with my rail pass), but the boat did not go to Koblenz.  They said I could wait four hours and then a boat would come that would go to Koblenz.  So I reread the schedule and realized that I could’ve taken the 2:15pm boat from Mainz that would have taken me all the way to Koblenz.  Without getting up at such an ungodly hour.  GRRRRR.

Anyway, I slept most the train ride(s) and then even slept on the boat.  I just couldn’t keep my eyes open!  It was a pretty trip, but I think I was too tired to fully appreciate it.  Once the boat arrived at the last stop, I got the train to Koblenz (about 15 mins).  I went walking in search of the tourist information desk because I wanted to see about the Mosel cruise tomorrow and I do not know if I will have WiFi where I’m staying tonight (and I can’t check in until 6pm).  The signs led me first to a vast pedestrian mall area and then to a large modern enclosed mall.  I found out that the Mosel cruises are only on weekends.  Awesome.   If I had known that I would’ve skipped Koblenz entirely and went straight to Cologne.  Oh well.

So then I decided to kill time by shopping.  Also, I needed a few things.  I kept seeing people taking “selfies” with a long extender arm.  I realized those were probably Go Pro cameras, so I started researching.  I had no idea something called a “monopod” existed.  So when I saw that the mall had the store “Saturn”(their version of Best Buy), I went in and found one.  So hopefully I will actually have photos of myself on this trip!  (And I don’t have to rely on strangers… who take one photo and, chances are, I don’t like it!)  I also had to get some conditioner, as I realized last night that when I split up some of my toiletries for Liz to bring in a couple weeks, I brought two shampoos and left 2 conditioners, instead of one of each.  But I luckily found the same line of shampoo/conditioner, just not my specific one (the L’Oreal Ever ___ line…I use Ever Curl, but I got Ever Pure).  No biggie for 2 weeks, as at least it is sulfate-free and similar!

Now I am sitting at Starbucks so I could get online and waiting to go back to the train station, get my bags, and make my way to the hotel.  Not sure what I will do tomorrow, besides sleep in! I guess I will have a little more time in Cologne than I thought I would!


An Old Friend, the Black Forest, and a Naked Bath September 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 8:09 am

I traveled from Munich to Baden Baden yesterday… and only barely made my connection.  The train was late getting into Munich, so of course we were behind the whole way.  I made it by 3 minutes!  Whew.  I got checked into the hotel and waited for my college friend Paul to arrive.  He has lived in Germany for 12 years now and is only an hour away from Baden Baden.  He and his son came to see me.  It was so good to see him, as we realized it had been about 10 years since the last time!  Much too long!  We went to a castle ruin (Altes Schloss Hohenbaden) and explored.  I since learned that this castle was built in the 12th century, but fell into ruins following a fire at the end of the 16th century.  The views from each level that we climbed was incredible.  The Black Forest spread out all around.  As a result, it is considered one of the most attractive destinations in the northern Black Forest.

We then set out for a drive.  It was great!  We drove all around the Black Forest, through quaint little towns, and towering trees.  It was a great time for Paul and I to catch up and for me to see the Black Forest.  As I hadn’t realized that the train station was so far outside of town, I knew this was my only real chance to see the countryside.  We stopped in a small town for some food at what seemed to be a traditional German restaurant.  I had my first Riesling in Germany!  It was good!  Paul translated the menu for me and I went with a beef dish and spatzle.  Branching out!

I relaxed the rest of the evening and slept until I woke up this morning.  I went and got a quick pastry for breakfast before heading to Friedrichsbad, an Irish-Roman bath, which is literally across the street from my hotel!  Score!  I saw a video on this bath and was very excited to give it a try.  Baden Baden is known as a spa destination, but this bath is a different experience.  It is a 17-step process, but I only went with the middle package.  Which really means I got everything except the crème massage.  I specifically decided to go this morning because Mondays are separate days, whereas Sundays are co-ed.  Considering you are naked throughout, no thanks.

I was pretty hesitant at first, but I tried to tell myself that Europeans are much more comfortable in the nude than Americans are!  You start with a shower, then a hot room (not quite a sauna, not quite a steam room) where you laid on wooden chairs and the dry heat dries you off, then you shower again, then a soap and brush massage (she asked me if I wanted the soft brush or hard brush… soft, please!  And whether I wanted natural soap or olive… let’s try olive!), then another shower, then a seriously hot steam room/sauna (SO HOT), followed by, you guessed it, another shower, then a cooler pool/thermal bath, then an even cooler Jacuzzi soak, then a cold pool bath (this is where there will always be the risk of seeing men… thankfully there weren’t any in the pool with me, but I could see two in the step before the pool, so I was SUPER uncomfortable and got out before my 5 minutes were up), then a little warmer thermal bath, then another shower, then a cold shower, then a COLD bath (I stepped in and was all, nope, peace out), then warm towel to dry off, a moisturizing area, and finally the resting room (technically the last stop is the reading room, but I didn’t want to go there).  The resting room was fantastic.  They take your towel (sheet) that you dried off with, put a new one on a table (which already has a thermal blanket on it) and wrap you in the sheet and blanket.  Sung as a bug.  I totally fell asleep.  It was glorious.

Afterward, I came back to the hotel to get ready and set out for lunch, ice cream, and a leisurely walk around the cute city center.  I even did a little browsing in stores.  It was exactly what I needed.  A relatively laid-back couple of days.  If all goes well, I will be cruising up the Rhine tomorrow, though I have a few questions and can’t seem to get them answered.  So I might be flying by the seat of my pants a bit tomorrow!


The Top of Germany September 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 2:26 pm

I’m not gonna lie…I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since I heard of Zugspitze… on the Bachelorette: Des’ Season.  Yep, they traveled to Germany and she had a group date on Zugspitze, which is when I learned that it is the highest peak in Germany.  And only a day trip (a little over an hour by train) from Munich.  I added it to my list.  (For fellow bachette watchers, I did see that they have the igloos that they were in, but they are like a hotel… you rent them for the evening… so I couldn’t see them!)

In preparing for Munich, knowing I had two day trips, both of which would be best in good weather, I kept an eye on the forecast.  On Monday, it appeared that it was going to be foggy at Zugspitze three of the days I was going to be in Munich and snowing the fourth.  I was going to go the snowing day, until I arrived in Munich on Wednesday.  Because I checked the weather and it totally changed.  Today’s forecast was for “abundant sunshine.” Yes, please!  And it did not disappoint!

So I made it to the train station early today in order to mail a package home (trying to lighten the load!) and get breakfast.  The ride there was great (even if I had to argue with some dude about what is first class and what is second class… resulting in me telling him: “then why did you ask me, if you already know?” don’t ask me a question and then proceed to argue with me because you don’t like my answer… even if I’m right!). The train took us to Garmisch-Patrehkidhffdfjd (that’s how I think of many German words… seriously, how are you supposed to pronounce the longest words known to man with so many consonants).  From there, you take a train to the top.  Or so I thought.

First, you pay.  With my rail pass, I knew I got a 10% discount.  Score!  Oh wait… it costs 51 euro?!?!  WHAT?  So 46 for me, but still.  That is crazy.   CRAZY.  I had no idea it cost that much and I’m glad I didn’t know ahead of time because I may have skipped it.  That kind of blows my budget for the day, especially because I thought today would end up being a “cheaper” day.  But I was there, so obviously I wasn’t turning around.  I got on the cog wheel train ready to be taken up the mountain!  Oh wait, it goes a few stops and then we have to transfer trains.  Which takes us one stop and then people can choose to take a cable car up or ride the train.   I decided to ride the train up and the cable car down.

So the train is going up, up, up… through the glacier!  That was cool. I mean, it was just a tunnel, but to know you were inside a glacier was pretty awesome.  Then it spits you out… not at the top.  Seriously, can’t Germans do anything the easy way??  But it was still incredibly beautiful.  I took in the view, took some photos, and spent a little contemplative time (which was good, considering the chaos at the top).  There is free sledding there.  FREE!  If only I had been braver about being an adult and going sledding by myself… and also if there had been more snow.  Kids were having a hard time going down, so it would’ve been almost impossible for an adult.  I love me some sledding, though!

I then took a cable car to the top.  It was unbelievable.  Just absolutely breathtaking.  Unfortunately, there were about a bazillion million people up there.  But it was still amazing and I spent so much time taking pictures, taking video, and admiring.  God’s creation never ceases to amaze me and it frequently brings me to tears.  Not to mention man’s ingenuity to create a way for people to easily make it over 8800 feet in the air (yes, I calculated feet instead of meters… because America!).

Once I decided it was time to leave, I was very excited as I waited in anticipation of the cable car down.  I knew we would be going over or near the most stunning lake I have ever seen and was so excited to take (way too many) pictures of it!  I got a front seat view in the cable car, which was totally fine until we went by these large posts… it was scary…I took video the second time (though the collective gasp was less pronounced).  It was just an incredible feeling  essentially floating down over the mountain to the ground.  I loved it!  (And I was watching paragliders both yesterday and today as I gear up for that in the Swiss Alps in November!)

I got back to Munich and spent a little more time off of Marienplatz at the awesome market that I found the other day.  I learned it has a name: Viktualienmarkt.  It was awesome.  And I had a Schnitzelsemmel.  Yep, I had a Schnitzel sandwich. And by the way, schnitzel is chicken?  Since when?  I thought it was supposed to be some sort of pork?  So when I said yes to ketchup, I really didn’t know what I was saying yes to.  I’m not Emilie, I don’t out ketchup on my chicken sandwiches.  Ok, maybe my Thanksgiving turkey, but that’s where I draw the line!

Tomorrow it’s off to Baden Baden.  I have very much enjoyed spending 4 nights in one place.  It has given me a feeling of permanency (for a minute), as it allowed me to completely unpack my bag and pretend I was sticking around.  Which in turn let me repack my bag tonight in a more travel conducive manner.  I also sent a package home today, so I am looking forward to a (slighter) lesser load.  And not even in the weight as much in the space.  Fingers crossed!


Mad King Ludwig and His Castle September 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:26 pm

Today was set aside for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the two castles in the alps above the German town Fussen.  King Ludwig II, otherwise known as “Mad King Ludwig”, had them built on top of ruins of previous castles.  Ludwig grew up in one of those castles and enjoyed the Medieval architecture, so that was the style in which he built Neuschwanstein.  It also famous for being the “Disney Castle.”

I did not purchase tickets ahead of time, as I wasn’t sure how busy it would be and I didn’t want to be locked down to a certain time. So I just took the advice of the American couple yesterday and got on an early train to Fussen.  My rail pass included this journey (and man, I can get used to first class rail travel, let me tell you!  After Poland I realized how much better first class is, as my rail pass was not valid in Poland, so I traveled second class.) though I knew I would have to take a bus up to the castle.  (Or walk.  30-40 minutes.  Uphill.  Um, no.  Not with these aching feet!) So I got off of the train and followed the crowd to the bus. Paid my fare and when it dropped us off, I got in line for a ticket.  The line wasn’t too bad and, at 11:25am, I got to purchase my ticket.  Only to learn that the next available tour was at 1:25pm.  WHAT?  I have to wait 2 hours?!?!  I was less than pleased.

So I killed time by walking around and getting something to eat.  Then there was another bus to take us up to the castle, as the first bus only took us to the “base camp.”. Oh and this bus?  Costs more money.  So dumb.  And it didn’t even take us all the way.  I was not impressed.  Even though my foot was feeling better today (I massaged the hell out of it last night and took two Naproxen at bed instead of one.), but I didn’t want to push it.  I first went to the bridge where you could get a spectacular view of the castle and the mountains and a waterfall.  It was lovely.  I could’ve stood there all day on that hanging bridge, if it weren’t constantly filled with rude, pushy tourists.

But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t late for the tour, so I made the hike in to the Castle.  It was mostly downhill, so I was dreading leaving!  But the Castle was very beautiful up close (and in case you’re wondering, castles are totally different than palaces to me… palaces almost seem a dime a dozen, but castles are pretty awesome).  I went in on the tour (no photos, of course) and was shocked to learn that it was only a 30 minutes tour.  Excuse me?  I went thought all of THAT for a 30 minute tour?!?!  I don’t know that I would’ve even gone inside (and paid the 12 euro) had I known that.  It was a lovely castle and some of the rooms blew me away.  But I still don’t know if it was worth it.

So the deal with Ludwig was that he was obsessed with Richard Wagner, so this castle was a tribute to both Wagner and the Medieval period.  Unfortunately, Ludwig never got to see it completed.  It had been under construction for 17 years and he died before it was completed.  So it is still not completed to this day (which is, apparently, why the tours are only 30 minutes long).  Remarkably, the castle was opened as a tourist attraction 6 weeks after his death in 1886.  His death is a mystery to this day.  Although once a King of Bavaria, shortly into his reign Bavaria was overtaken by the Prussians and eventually into the German Empire. So he hid away in his castles and had them built with his own money, taking out loads of debts.  When collectors tried to make good on the debts, he was declared insane and he was subsequently arrested and brought to another castle, which lie on the shores of a lake.  The next night, Ludwig and the doctor who declared him insane left for a walk with no other attendants and were found dead in the lake.  There are a number of theories on his death, including suicide by drowning (even though he was in shallow water and was a strong swimmer), murder, and accidental (hypothermia).  The doctor was murdered, as his body showed signs of blunt force trauma and strangulation.  Some think Ludwig killed him and tried to escape…


Munchen: Concentration Camp, Glockenspiel, and Oktoberfest September 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 10:57 am

I traveled from Salzburg to Munich yesterday and braved the public transportation to my hotel for the first time.  Before I just cabbed it and learned the system while I was there.  This time I was confident that I could do it right away, knowing that my hotel was very close to a stop.  It took asking some questions at the train station, but I made it.  I checked in, only to learn that the rooms aren’t all together.  No, in fact, they have several locations and my room?  In the building furthest away.  Because of course it is.  I thought I was going to die hiking that with my backpack.  Not to mention I had walked to the train station in Salzburg, too, so I was exhausted.  I almost didn’t think I was going to make it.  Those of you who know me well know I do not like massages.  Well, my shoulders are about shot and I would love one right about now.  Thankfully I will be getting one in Baden Baden on Sunday or Monday.

So I made it to my room and checked the weather forecast for Munich and the two places I will be day-tripping to.  The forecast had changed, as a result, so did my plans.  I headed out to Dachau (more on that in another post, I will combine that with the AB post).  I had to stop partway through the museum because it was closing in 10 minutes.  I could’ve spent another hour there,  easy.  But at least I went through the entire memorial.  That’s the important part!

I got back in time for my planned Skype sash with the BF and then had some Italian for dinner at a local place just down the road.  It was nice.  Weird to be eating Italian in Germany, I know.

I decided today would be a sleep in day and almost didn’t set the alarm, but I found out the Glockenspiel only goes off at 11am (not sure if they still consider this summer, when it goes off two other times).  But of course I couldn’t sleep in.  Because that’s my luck!  Oh well.  It was cold and rainy this morning, but the Glockenspiel was cool.  There was a walking tour of the city starting nearby and the (Irish… weird, I know) tour guide said that this was the world’s 2d most overrated tourist attraction, the 1st being the Anatomical Clock in Prague!  Haha!

My foot has been increasingly giving me pain, on the top of my foot, so I decided I wasn’t going to try to walk to the Residenz, so I hopped back on the subway.  I toured the Residenz, event though I decided that I’m kind of not a palace girl.  It was the Palace used by the Bavarian Emperor’s (think Maximilians and Ludwigs).  There were interesting parts, basically the unique parts.  The Antiquarium, for instance.  Beautiful.  While I like looking at palace apartments, they are starting to blend together.  And many don’t allow you to take photos, so I don’t have independent recollection of them.

When I was finished, I realized just how close Marienplatz is and walked back.  I then chanced upon a Biergarten/farmer’s market.  It was lovely.  I wish I had known it was there, I would’ve brought my tablet and spent time sitting there and reading.  Instead, I just found a stand where I could get a cheesy Brat (with bread… so many come without bread) and a DC.  As I was eating, an American couple asked me where I got it, so I pointed out the stand to them.  They returned to my table and we chatted.  They were awesome.  They gave me tips on Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein, etc.  It was just nice to talk to people without a language barrier.  He was from CA and she was from TX.  We had a great convo!

Then I went to St. Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church).  This church had one of the most gorgeous alter pieces I have ever seen.  It was marvelous!  It wasn’t as big of a church as I have seen on this trip, so I didn’t need to spend a lot of time there.  I decided that it was 2pm and that was as good a time as any to hit up Oktoberfest.

Now, you may know that I am not a beer drinker.  So this was always going to be interesting.  But the guy from CA said that one particular tent had cider!  No.  Way.  So I was pumped.  Until I walked into the first tent.  It was the “regular” Augustiner tent and it was UNREAL.  Most of the tables are reserved, so if you don’t have a reservation, you can’t sit.  I was told that there were high top tables that weren’t reserved and you could get one of those.  There weren’t any in that tent and I decided that I was very overwhelmed.  I liked walking around outside and the fair or carnival atmosphere (and the smell of roasting nuts… and no, that’s not a euphemism for anything!).  But the tents were intimidating.  I found the Augustiner tent with fish, which is how the chick from TX described the tent that had cider.  It was much less crowded than the other, but I still thought the tables were reserved.  I almost left, defeated, but I asked someone.  The tables aren’t reserved until the evening.  So I sat by myself and began to write out post cards for awhile before being served.  They did not have cider.  Wah wah. But the guy told me that one of the beers was citrus-lemonade.  Or at least that’s what I think he said.  So I got it.  It was as big as my head.  And I drank about half.  Which, for a non-beer drinker is pretty good.  I wasn’t a big fan, but it was way better than that pilsner in Prague.

Meanwhile, some older creeper from the next table decided to sit down across from me and started speaking German.  He held a camera and gestured to his friends.  I thought he wanted me to take a picture of them.  When he realized I spoke English, he did his best and I understood “best friend”.  I kept saying, you want me to take your picture and gestured.  Eventually some younger kid “translated” that creeper’s BFF, an even bigger creeper, wanted his photo WITH ME.  So awkward.  What’s a girl to do?  So I moved over there and tried to stay as far as possible and still be in the picture, but BFF creeper put his arm around me and squeezed, trying to put his head next to mine.  Um, no.  I got out of there.  Shortly thereafter, creeper number one interrupted my postcard writing to ask, “smoking?” No, I’m not going outside to smoke with you. Then he asked, gesturing to the postcard, “family?”. Yes, family.  Now go smoke.  (As an aside, when I sat at their table for the photo, creeper number one asked where I was from, so I said, “the States.” he goes, “the UNITED states?  Of AMERICA?”.  He was very excited that I was American.)

So I left a little while later, giving up on the beer the size of my head, and walked around a little more.  By this time, my foot had had enough.  I started to feel disappointed in myself again that I wasn’t really enjoying Oktoberfest like I thought I should, but then I remembered that this isn’t about what other people are going to think.  And if it wasn’t that much fun (because I don’t drink beer and because I was by myself), then so be it.  If my foot is killing me and I want nothing more than to go back to my room, then that’s what I’m going to do!

I am taking off for day trips the next two days.  Tomorrow will be an early one, heading to Neuschwanstein Castle (aka, the Disney Castle).  Then Saturday is Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany!


The Hills are Alive with the Sound of … Falco? September 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 1:39 pm

Yes, yes, if you are on FB you know I have never seen The Sound of Music.  So shoot me.   This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me, I don’t really see movies except the ones I’ve seen 5 thousand, billion, trillion times.  My boyfriend is coming around to this… he will only sometimes now ask me if I’ve seen a certain movie.  I generally say, why do you even ask?  He said, because sometimes I surprise him!  Anyway….I actually tried to see if it was on Netflix this afternoon, but it’s not.  So I will have come and gone in Salzburg and not seen it.

But I haven’t been able to stop singing “Amadeus” the entire time I’ve been here, starting with yesterday afternoon when I toured Mozart’s birthplace (home).  I learned many fascinating things about him and his family.  I loved it.  I’ve always liked him. Whether it was because he died on my birthday or because he was in my values books I got for Christmas when I was 5, I don’t know.  But he’s real popular here, I’ll tell ya!

Yesterday it had rained before I got into town, but then it was cleaning up and the sun was trying to come out. I was excited because this was going to be the first hints of rain so far, so I was hoping it was done!  Well, I came out of Mozart’s home and it was raining.  Pretty good.  And windy. So windy.  I had meant to grab my North Face wind breaker/rain coat when I dropped my stuff at the hotel, just in case, but then I promptly forgot.  So I made haste back to the hotel getting pretty wet in the meantime.  After it dried up a bit, I went out exploring a bit more.  I ended up getting a burger for dinner at a weird burger place near my hotel called “Bio Burger” or something.  It was ok, definitely different!

Today I actually slept until I woke up.  What a novelty.  I had set the alarm, but woke up about 30 minutes before it went off.  I had gotten 10 hours of sleep, so I guess that’s enough!  I don’t know what it is, but I am still pretty tired.  I don’t think it can still be jet lag, but I’m sure all the walking (so much walking) and being outside in the fresh air all day every day has something to do with it!

I got ready and hit up an Austrian bakery in my “neighborhood” (I keep wanting to call everything German because it’s so similar…) and got a cinnamon roll.  It was still overcast, but I knew the rain was past and it was supposed to clear up around noon.  So after eating my roll and drinking some DC, I went into the Dom (Cathedral).  So beautiful… seriously, I need a thesaurus if I keep going into gorgeous churches!  I think maybe palaces are a dime a dozen (for the most part), whereas churches are all so different and yet all so awe-inspiring.  I don’t know.

I was disappointed this morning to see that the Residenplatz was full of a children’s carnival with rides, etc.  So I couldn’t get photos of the square and the fountain in the middle.  I got a couple of the fountain, but was really prevented from good photos of the whole square.  Well, I later found out that it was St. Rupert’s Fair.  St. Rupert was the founder of Salzburg and his feast day in Austria is September 24.  So between September 19-24, this traditional county fair occurs.  (I looked this up after I realized it had something do with someone called “Rupert.”)  It is held in the squares around the Cathedral and is one of the most popular fairs.  Clearly.  The website says, “The fair also offers valuable insight into local customs and craftsmanship.” That it did!  More on that later… but I was less annoyed when I learned this.

So after admiring the Dom, I went in search of a pretzel.  I knew today was going to be a bad food day, but whatever, I’ve earned it!  I wanted just a “regular” pretzel first.  They had pizza, cherry, apple, nut, chocolate nut, poppy, etc.  It was crazy.  I had the regular, but it was pretty cold (I think the high today was like 58) so I only ate half of it. Then I boarded the funicular up to Festung Hohensalzburg.  This is the large, looming, 900 year old fortress that sits above Salzburg.  I spent almost 3 hours there.  It was great!  I was a little annoyed at first because my ticket included an audio guide. Ok, great.  I went into the place and there was a line and so I waited in it.  The line went upstairs to what appeared to be a ticket office.  So I thought people were getting the guides or something.  After awhile, no one was moving.  I realized it was a group tour, led by audio guide.  Dumb.  I did it anyway, and ism glad I did, but I still prefer to be able to move at my own pace and skip stuff or spend longer if I want.

It had the most gorgeous views of the city and surrounding areas, though.  Breathtaking.  Loved being up there and just wandering around.  The place is HUGE!  I also went through the royal apartments (the three rooms that they have) and the museum.  I am getting fed up with tourists who can’t understand the concept of “no photos” allowed.  I see them taking photos anyway and it pisses me off because even if they’re getting away with it, I’m too much of a rule-follower to do it!  (This does not apply to the lady who was taking photos at Auschwitz in the gas chamber and crematorium… her?  I wanted to throw her camera on the ground and stomp on it.  I may have issues.  Thankfully the guide from the tour behind us stopped her.)

It was bright sunshine by the time I was done at Festung, so I made my way back down in search of a bratwurst or something.  In a bun.  They are very hard to find.  On my way, I was sidetracked by a stand selling “Sturm” (not to be confused with Sturm und Drang).  I had heard about Sturm in Vienna and wanted to try some, but didn’t get the chance. So when I saw it, I jumped at the chance! Sturm is otherwise known in some parts as Federweiser and is some sort of fermenting wine, bottled at a particular point in the fermenting process.  It is also carbonated.  It comes in white or rose and I got white.  It was SO GOOD!  It was all I could do to not gulp it down and ask for seconds!  I then went back in search of my glorified hot dog and went to where I had seen a stand yesterday.  No go.  So I went back to the Sturm stand because I had seen that they had them.

Wait, not hot dogs.  Bosna. Bosna is a “spicy Austrian fast food dish,” which may have originated in Salzburg.  It “resembles a hot dog, consisting of a bratwurst (two of them, actually), and I had mustard and ketchup, though they offered onions and curry powder.  Curry!  Gross.  This thing was TASTY.  (now, remember, I didn’t swear off of pork 20+ years ago because I don’t like it… but my principles have been set aside for the benefit of this trip… and I think that was a good decision!) I could have had another, but I left it at one!  I then went back to the hotel to drop things off and have a bit of a rest.

I then set out for Schloss Mirabell Gardens.  I admired the garden and proceeded to read. Unfortunately it was quite cold in the shade and I couldn’t read my tablet when facing the sun.  So I didn’t last as long there as I intended.  I went back to the Dom squares to find a place to sit in the sun and I remembered a covered picnic table area.  So I went there.  It was now full of people, but I found a spot.  I was oblivious to the goings-on around me until I was distracted by a bunch of people in cultural dress carrying instruments walk in.  They put on a concert with dancing and everything.  It was fantastic!  I can’t believe I lucked into that!  It was very entertaining.  After almost an hour, I went to the Irish bar I had found earlier.  I meant to eat there, but they didn’t serve food.  So I had my first (but certainly not last!) Magnet’s of the trip!

Then I needed dinner.  What’s a girl to do?  I went and had another Bosna, duh.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I also had an apple pretzel somewhere in there this afternoon, too!  Apparently the days of eating next to nothing are over!  Or, at least it was today!


I Do Not Heart Vienna September 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 11:39 am

Sorry to my friends who love this city (Heidi, Helkei, Jeff, Sherry, among others), but I kind of can’t stand it.  It is difficult to navigate, the maps are impossible to read, and the people are quite unfriendly.  I would say that we didn’t get off to a good start, me and Vienna, but that’s not true because I didn’t realize I had forgotten my charger until 6pm on my first day.  I had already tried to go out and about and could not make heads or tails of where I was from the map I was given.  Nothing made sense.  So I came back to my hotel at 3, when I could check in.  I did some laundry (socks and undies, the rest will have to wait until Munich where I will be staying for 4 nights, so things will have longer to dry).  Then I took a nap because I was tired to my bones.

I only slept for an hour and I knew Phil and I were going to try to Skype, so I went to plug in my phone.  Couldn’t find my charger anywhere.  Which is when I realized that I left it plugged in in my room in Prague.  I started to panic, but before I let myself get too far gone, I went to reception to ask where I could buy one.  It was 6:15.  She said, “at this hour?” as if I was asking at midnight.  Apparently, the stores all close at 6pm.  So I said, “or tomorrow?”. She said, all stores in Vienna are closed on Sundays. She checked their drawer and they did not have a charger for an iPhone 5S.  So that’s when I lost it.  How can a major city be closed on Sundays?!?!  Aren’t we beyond those rules by now?  After I got it together, mostly.  I went in search of dinner.  I hadn’t eaten a proper dinner since Tuesday, so I thought it was important.  I asked at reception for something within walking distance and was given two options in  two different directions.  I went one way and as I was walking, I passed a grocery store. I resisted the urge to go in and just get a little bit of food.  I found the restaurant suggested to me and I went in.  The server wasn’t overly friendly, but she offered me a seat, telling me that I would have to share if other people came in.  Um, ok?  Apparently many reservations are made for this place because most tables has signs on them.  Why the dude suggested a place where you need reservations is beyond me.  Eventually she gave me a menu, but I sat there and sat there and sat there and no one waited on me.  So I left.  I then went back to the grocery store, but even that was closed.

As I made my way back to the hotel, I passed a pizzeria that appeared to be open.  So I said, what the heck!  I had pretty much lost my appetite at this point, but I knew I needed to eat. So I ordered a margherita pizza, which to them is just a plain ol’ cheese pizza.  Worked for me!  I ate some and returned to my hotel with a little chocolate.

I decided I was not going to try to go to church this morning (I had planned on going to the one with the Vienna Boys’ Choir) because it would be almost impossible for me to get there on time, considering how awful this city is with maps and directions.  I also needed sleep.  So I took my time getting ready and set out for the Hofburg, which is the Habsburg’s Palace, but is famous for Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth, aka Sisi.  There is the Sisi museum, which at first was just silver and china.  I couldn’t care less.  So eventually we made our way to the Kaiserapartments, which is what I really wanted to see.

But first was more Sisi stuff, but this was actually interesting.  There were a lot of her belongings and clothing.  It was all very interesting and now I want to know more about her.  It seemed as though she was very popular, but she was assassinated.  Shocking.  I had no idea!  I think I will look her up in the future!  The rest of the apartments were fine.  I think I can tell that Palaces are going to get old for me.  But I’ve seen one in each city so far, so that’s probably why.  I think I have a good break in Palace-seeing now, so that’s good.

I tried to take more public transportation to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephendom), and that was a disaster.  I ended up way out of the city center and I decided I would ride it out all the way and then take it back in, but I saw that the wait for the tram I needed to go back in was short at one particular stop, so I got off.  Eventually I found a U-Bahn (subway) map and was able to take that to the Cathedral.  I came up from the subway outside of the Cathedral.  I noticed some shops around, mostly souvenir shops.  So I went in one and got my obligatory shot glass, even though I don’t love the place.  I then toured the Cathedral.  It took my breath away.  I decided I must be a church girl versus a palace girl.  Because these churches are just so magnificent. I sat down to pray, as I always do, and was able to just let the whole phone thing go.  Phil and I did not Skype last night, we were going to try today.  I was rapidly losing juice (turning on and off the phone must take a lot) and decided that it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t talk to him today.  I would talk to him tomorrow.  I tried to put it in perspective and realize how blessed I am to be where I am and doing what I am doing.  When I finished the tour I walked outside and almost immediately noticed an Apple store.  That was open.  Seriously.  It gets better.  It was NEXT DOOR to the souvenir shop I went in.  I never saw it.  I think indexed to let it go and make peace with the situation before God was like, ok, here you go.  20 euros later my battery is at 100%.

I had lunch at a café off the Stephensplatz (the square) and ordered sausages.  I had been trying to a find a stand where I could just get a brat or something, but couldn’t find one.  So what I ordered ended up being two sausages with some mustard, horseradish (not horsey sauce, Em!), and bread.  I ate 1 sausage and two bites of the other.  Not impressed.  I will try again in Salzburg or Germany, but this didn’t cut it.

I then made my way to the Prayer, an amusement park.  It’s famous for its Giant Ferris Wheel, Weiner Riesenrad. It was a “must see” attraction, that Vienna claims is the most-visited attraction in Vienna.  I wanted to go in it to get a good view of the city.  I was a little put off that the cars are wooden… but I didn’t die.  🙂

I will likely get something from my hotel for dinner tonight before packing up for Salzburg tomorrow.  But before I go, one last word about the people here.  I told you about the one restaurant that didn’t wait on me, well this morning I was at a Café at the Hofburg in need of breakfast.  The server was rude, telling me to sit down when I was at the counter.  So I sat down and looked at the menu (there was a case of pastries I was standing in front of, so I thought you ordered there).  He never came back.  I shouldn’t say that.  He, like at the other place, walked by me several times without taking my order.  So again, I left.  I don’t know what it is about these Austrians, but I do not like them.  They are as unfriendly as the Poles were friendly.  Not impressed, Vienna, not impressed.